Landmark Supreme Court Cases

A look at court decisions that changed America.

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National Federation of Independent Business vs. Secretary of Health and Human Services (2012) aka Obamacare - On Thursday, the Supreme Court made yet another landmark decision in upholding President Obama's Affordable Care Act. From the Affordable Care Act to the Dred Scott decision, BET.com looks back at other Supreme Court cases that altered America's cultural landscape. – Britt Middleton Supreme Court justices upheld President Obama's Affordable Care Act, stating that the individual mandate requiring all Americans to have health insurance beginning in 2014 was constitutional.(Photo: AP Photo/David Goldman)

Gestational Limits - Abortions are prohibited in 41 states after a specified point in pregnancy, most often fetal viability, which typically varies anywhere from 22 weeks to the third trimester according to studies. This law is generally enforced except when required to protect the woman's health of life. (Photo:  AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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Roe v. Wade (1973) - The court ruled unconstitutional a state's law banning abortions except to save the life of the mother. (Photo: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) - Under the "separate but equal" doctrine, the court affirmed that segregation was legal in public facilities. The case was brought after Homer Ferguson, who was one-eighth Black, sat in a white-only section of a streetcar, violating Louisiana's Separate Car Act. He argued the law violated his constitutional rights. The High Court ruled against him.(Photo: Public Domain)

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Brown v. Board of Education (1954) - The court ruled that "separate schools are inherently unequal" and banned segregation in public schools.  The decision overturned Plessy v. Ferguson.In this image, a Black student recites his lesson surrounded by white fellows and others Black students on May 21, 1954, at Washington's Saint-Dominique school, where for the first time the Brown v. Board of Education decision was applied. (Photo: STAFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Mapp v. Ohio (1961) - Dolree Mapp was arrested after her home was searched by police without a warrant and officers found obscene material. She argued that the documents should be supressed because it was an illegal search and seizure. The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that illegally obtained material cannot be used in a criminal trial.(Photo: Courtesy Public Domain)

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Mapp v. Ohio (1961) - Dolree Mapp was arrested after her home was searched by police without a warrant and officers found obscene material. She argued that the documents should be supressed because it was an illegal search and seizure. The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that illegally obtained material cannot be used in a criminal trial.(Photo: Courtesy Public Domain)

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Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) - The High Court ruled in favor of Clarence Earl Gideon, saying that the Sixth Amendment requires indigent criminal defendants be provided an attorney free of charge. (Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

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Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) - The High Court ruled in favor of Clarence Earl Gideon, saying that the Sixth Amendment requires indigent criminal defendants be provided an attorney free of charge. (Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Miranda v. Arizona (1966) - Ernest Miranda admitted to a kidnapping and rape after hours of police interrogation, but in this landmark case, the Supreme Court agreed that police must inform suspects of their rights ? including the right to remain silent ? before questioning. The warning that police read to people being arrested was named after him.(Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

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Miranda v. Arizona (1966) - Ernest Miranda admitted to a kidnapping and rape after hours of police interrogation, but in this landmark case, the Supreme Court agreed that police must inform suspects of their rights — including the right to remain silent — before questioning. The warning that police read to people being arrested was named after him.(Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Remembering Watergate - The shadow of the Watergate scandal still looms over the American presidency, with 71 percent of Americans in a June 14 Pew poll saying they remembered where they were on Aug. 8, 1974, the day President Richard Nixon resigned following his involvement in a massive wiretapping scandal. In the same poll, 97 percent of respondents said they remembered where they were or what they were doing the moment they heard about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (Photo: Pierre Manevy/Express/Getty Images)

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U.S. v. Nixon (1974) - In the wake of the Watergate wiretapping scandal, justices ruled that a defendant's right to potentially exonerating evidence outweighed the president's right to executive privilege if national security was not compromised.(Photo: Pierre Manevy/Express/Getty Images)

Texas v. Johnson (1989) - To protest the Reagan administration, Gregory Lee Johnson burned an American flag outside of the Dallas City Hall. He was arrested, but argued his act was symbolic speech. The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that symbolic speech is constitutionally protected even when it is offensive.  In this image, Gregory Lee Johnson and his lawyer, William Kunstler.(Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

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Texas v. Johnson (1989) - To protest the Reagan administration, Gregory Lee Johnson burned an American flag outside of the Dallas City Hall. He was arrested, but argued his act was symbolic speech. The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that symbolic speech is constitutionally protected even when it is offensive. In this image, Gregory Lee Johnson and his lawyer, William Kunstler.(Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Bush v. Gore (2000) - Days after suspending a state-wide recount of votes in Florida, the Supreme Court resolved the results of the 2000 presidential between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush in favor of Bush.(Photo: Alex Wong/Newsmakers/Getty Images)

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Bush v. Gore (2000) - Days after suspending a state-wide recount of votes in Florida, the Supreme Court resolved the results of the 2000 presidential between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush in favor of Bush.(Photo: Alex Wong/Newsmakers/Getty Images)

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Louis Stokes - Louis Stokes was the first African-American elected Congressman of Ohio in 1968. He chaired several Congressional committees, including the Permanent Select Intelligence Committee, and was the first African-American to win a seat on the House Appropriations Committee. (Photo: Wikicommons)

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Terry v. Ohio (1968) - The court ruled that stop-and-frisk policies do not violate the Constitution under certain circumstances. Police believed John W. Terry and others were going to rob a store. The officer stopped and frisked the men. A weapon was found on Terry and he was convicted of carrying a concealed weapon. The Supreme Court ruled that this search was reasonable. Louis Stokes (above) was the attorney in the case.(Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

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Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) - Dredd Scott, a slave from Virginia, sued the wife of his master for his freedom after her husband died, but the courts ruled that people of African descent (or their descendants) brought to United States as slaves were not  U.S. citizens and therefore not covered by the legal protections in the U.S. Constitution.(Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

University of California vs. Bakke (1978) - As a result of a lawsuit brought by Allen Bakke, who had twice been denied admission to medical school, the court struck down the admission process of the Medical School at the University of California Davis, which had earmarked 16 of 100 seats for non-white students. (Photo: Courtesy archives.library.wisc.edu)

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University of California vs. Bakke (1978) - As a result of a lawsuit brought by Allen Bakke, who had twice been denied admission to medical school, the court struck down the admission process of the Medical School at the University of California Davis, which had earmarked 16 of 100 seats for non-white students. (Photo: Courtesy archives.library.wisc.edu)

Swann vs. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971) - To ensure students would receive equal educational opportunities regardless of their race, the High Court upheld busing programs to remedy racial imbalances in schools. (Photo: Keystone/Getty Images)

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Swann vs. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971) - To ensure students would receive equal educational opportunities regardless of their race, the High Court upheld busing programs to remedy racial imbalances in schools. (Photo: Keystone/Getty Images)

Grutter vs. Bollinger (2003) - Supreme Court justices upheld the affirmative action admissions policy of the University of Michigan Law School, citing that the university had a compelling interest in promoting class diversity. (Photo: Courtesy Wikicommons)

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Grutter vs. Bollinger (2003) - Supreme Court justices upheld the affirmative action admissions policy of the University of Michigan Law School, citing that the university had a compelling interest in promoting class diversity. (Photo: Courtesy Wikicommons)

Loving vs. Virginia (1967) - In the face of racial disharmony in the South, the court ruled restrictions on interracial marriages in the United States unconstitutional. The case stems from the 1958 arrest of Mildred Jeter Loving, who was considered ?colored?  and Richard Perry Loving, for violating Virginia?s Racial Integrity Act. (Photo: Courtesy The Washington Post)

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Loving vs. Virginia (1967) - In the face of racial disharmony in the South, the court ruled restrictions on interracial marriages in the United States unconstitutional. The case stems from the 1958 arrest of Mildred Jeter Loving, who was considered “colored”  and Richard Perry Loving, for violating Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act. (Photo: Courtesy The Washington Post)